When Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney used the idiom “Obamacare” at the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), it was another sign of how the Republican Party practices intellectual laziness and dishonesty. It also signified a lengthy “rewording” campaign to manipulate Americans.
Starting in 1990, Republican leaders issued a list of key words and “talking points” to be used against and to smear Democratic (including Progressives and Liberals) opponents. The constant mantras to describe Democrats as sick, extreme, pathetic, traitors, socialists, cheats, bizarre, radical, and permissive was minor compared to what was about to occur.
Using emotionally charged idioms like “death taxes” and “welfare queens” socially engineered many Americans to attack the economically disadvantaged while allowing the most economically powerful to amass even more wealth. When the Columbine shooting rampage was associated with Liberalism, it spelled disaster for progressive thinking.
Wilhelm von Humboldt wrote that human mental representations, sentiments and behavior are dependent upon and conveyed through words and language. Furthermore, “Through the same act by which he spins language out of he/she weaves herself/himself into it, and every language draws a circle around the people to which it belongs…“
Not only have Republicans weaved a web of intellectual (and emotional) dishonesty, but using the idiom “Obamacare” is a lesson in intellectual laziness. (Recall that “idiom” means idiot. It is an expression having a meaning that cannot be understood from the combined meanings of its actual words nor individual meanings of its component words.)
Using “Obamacare” to describe America‘s health care complexities and crisis, including massive for-profit corporations, insurance and pharmaceutical companies-not to mention 50 million uninsured people and millions more that have died each year or lost their homes and livelihoods from inadequate care-is the opposite of intellectual perseverance.
Intellectual perseverance is the ability to grapple with complex situations and problems that cannot be easily solved. It does not succumb to meaningless idioms or useless and demeaning sound bytes. A critical thinker and articulate speaker adheres to rational principles that are reality based and open to change. They understand the views of others.
Contrarily, intellectual laziness demonstrates a tendency to forgo challenging problems and tasks. The intellectually indolent person hides behind “masked” words (like “socialized medicine” and “death panels”) and has a low tolerance for intellectual complexities. They are also intolerant of the views of others. Their thinking is dystopian.
As of late, it appears some Republicans have mastered the ability to “reword” and then dominate basic idioms, phrases, and even complex issues. Sadly, this rewording and re-voicing not only sabotages democratic debate and thinking, but it manipulates the emotions and subconscious. (What if Democrats started saying “Romneyneglect”?)
Diverse words and ideas, even citizen engagement and political parties which are necessary for a vital democracy, are trampled upon and held hostage. American language, thought, debate and politics either becomes homogenized or extremely confusing, something of which causes indolent citizenry and impotent democracy.
Regarding how language weaves a circle around the people to which it belongs, Von Humbold also wrote, “…a circle that can only be transcended insofar as one at the same time enters another one.” Intellectual audacity and intellectual integrity and reality, not “Obamacare”, is needed. The boos by NAACP members were a transcendent reality.
For apathetic thinkers and many Republicans, altering and transforming the Affordable Health Care Act into “Obamacare” is an informal plebiscite.(1) It is a deceptive, manipulative, uniformed and spoiled plebiscite dominated by those who cast words which mold and manipulate minds and emotions. It produces socially engineered democracies.
Why not grapple with the complexities of medicinal equality for all? Why not discuss the enormous profits and subsidies of health care industries, or why there is a shortage of medical personnel? Why not debate why the same Republicans who are condemning the Affordable Health Care Act have affordable, subsidized and tax payer health care?
Why not argue America’s priorities and motivations in funding trillion dollar wars while it refuses to provide adequate health care and medicines for its citizens? Why not wrestle with the Fourteenth Amendment and the federal government’s responsibility to enforce individual rights and equal protection under the law and the pursuit of happiness?
And how did former Vice-President Dick Cheney immediately receive a life-saving heart transplant while a close friend, age 31 and father of three, died because there were supposedly no kidneys? In the end, proverbial apathy and intellectual laziness and dishonesty, reflected by the words one uses, truly has the power of life or death.
Dallas Darling (firstname.lastname@example.org)